The new head of MI6 tried to persuade weapons inspectors in Iraq to harden up a report on their hunt for weapons of mass destruction, it was claimed yesterday.
John Scarlett suggested that the Iraq Survey Group report should include claims about Saddam Hussein's supposed arsenals - which had already been proven unreliable, an unnamed member of the ISG was quoted as saying in The Mail on Sunday.
Mr Scarlett - who takes up his role as head of the secret intelligence service this week - sent a confidential email to the head of the ISG on 8 March with a list of 10 "golden nuggets" for possible inclusion in the report, it was claimed.
His suggestions were rejected. But after pressure from the US and Britain, the ISG produced only a bland, 20-page document about the failure of their 1,400-strong team to find any trace of WMD in Iraq, rather than the expected 200-page analysis, The Mail on Sunday said.
The Foreign Office declined to comment in detail on the allegations, referring questions on the ISG report to the organisation itself.
Among the "nuggets" supposedly put forward by Mr Scarlett were claims that Saddam had a secret smallpox programme, that Iraq had developed mobile chemical weapons laboratories and that it possessed or was building a "rail gun" as part of a nuclear project.
ISG officials were said to be "stunned and dismayed" by the request.The ISG member was quoted as saying: "Inclusion of Scarlett's nuggets would have been grossly manipulative of the truth. Let's face it, he wanted us to include lies.
"Everything Scarlett wanted in was based on very old evidence which we had painstakingly investigated and shown to be false," he said.